The nonprofit sector is no stranger to burnout and unhealthy work habits. Mobilizing a base of supporters and advocating for meaningful change that will positively impact the world can sometimes feel draining. There are just not enough hours in the day to get everything done. As the cofounder of a web agency that teams up with nonprofits to fight for social change, I think about how we can do a better job of integrating self-care and good health habits into our day-to-day work. Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman recently asked me to share what we do at Rad Campaign for the the book they are writing "The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit." Here's three tips that have really worked for us.
1. Take Vacation When You Need It.
This year we implemented flexible vacation. The concept is simple. Take vacation when you need it. Whenever folks on our team feel like they need to take some time off to recharge, want go visit family, go hiking in the woods, etc. they schedule it and take time off, provided it does not interfere with major deadlines and that there is enough staff in the office to cover things. One of the main reasons we implemented flexible vacation was because some staff were concerned that if they did not take their vacation by the end of the year, they would lose it. Others wanted to take some extra vacation but technically did not have enough accrued hours for the year. Flexible vacation eliminates this unnecessary stress and now everyone has a lot more flexibility to recharge as they need it. Some Executive Director's might be scared of flexible vacation because they think staff may abuse this policy. If you trust your team to get their work done and meet their deadlines this should not be an issue.
2. Encourage Healthy Habits At Work
Provide Healthy Snacks - We've experimented with providing different types of nutritious snacks for the team over the years. For a while we worked with a startup that delivered single portion-sized healthy snacks weekly ranging from mixed nuts to baby carrots. The team got tired about the lack of variety so we brought in different types of trail mix, plain popcorn, etc. Recently we've settled on single portion organic crunchy snacks like pretzels, reduced fat Wheat Thins, etc. Plus these snacks can also be topped with organic peanut butter that we keep in the office. Admittedly, the crunchier snacks are not as nutritious as the carrots, but the team likes it better. We also try and bring in seasonal fruit like clementines.
Team Workouts - Twice a week we bring in a personal trainer for the team. Not only is it a great way get in a workout, we have a blast doing it as a team. Lately, some of us have also been doing monthly fitness challenges together at the office. For example, we're currently doing a squat challenge and a plank challenge.
3. Standing Desks – Sitting at a desk all day can cause back and neck problems, make you feel sluggish, etc. Some of our team has opted for standing desks to address these issues. Standing desks can take some time to get used to and not everyone loves them, so I suggest you test this out before you spend a lot of money on a fancy one.
What are your favorite self-care tips for nonprofit teams?